Pine Nuts at Lunchtime
It was in the way of things
That a casual sighting in a supermarket trolley
In front of me of a packet of nuts
And I was a girl again
Delighting in that lunch hour of freedom
From sitting straight-backed, blank-eyed
At conjugations, calculations or grammatical explanations
Watching our teacher’s hand slowly scrape
That white stub of chalk across the blackboard
And wincing as it chanced to squeak.
But when the bell sounded our release, we hurried
Out under the wobbling shade of the umbrella pines
And ran and dodged and hid and found until
Flushed and gasping, we came to rest.
We knew how to spot them then
Those slight charcoal-coloured oblongs
Of pine nuts nestled in the grooves of crazy paving
Like they had been dipped in ash.
Slipping off a shoe, heel in hand we’d kneel
And with the deft turn of a schoolgirl’s wrist
We would smash them open, but gently
So as not to injure the pale, delicate-tasting flesh inside
Fresh to the world, and sweeter
Than any pricey, packaged import.
Denise O’Hagan lives in Sydney. Born and raised in Rome, her poem today is from memories of her primary school days on the Via Appia Antica, before living in the England and emigrating to Australia. An editor by trade, she holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature & Italian and an MA in Bibliography and Textual Criticism. She worked in book publishing in London and Sydney before establishing her own imprint Black Quill Press. As a member of the Australian Institute of Professional Editors, in 2017 she was short-listed for the inaugural Rosanne Fitzgibbon Editorial Prize for work on her late mother’s novel Jerome & His Women. She has published short stories and poetry, including ‘Recalling Sarah’, which was shortlisted for this year’s Australian Catholic University Poetry Prize. More about Denise and her work can be found here.
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